June 12 2023 – Laurance Viljoen
Put down that cookie, get some sleep and drink your probiotics! The health of your gut influences the health of pretty much every other part of your body. Your brain, sleep cycle, immune system, skin, heart, and more are all affected by the status of your digestive tract and the bacteria within it. Our body is a complex ecosystem comprised of interconnected systems, and one crucial factor that affects overall well-being is gut health. The gut, often referred to as the "second brain," plays a vital role in digestion and nutrient absorption. In this blog post, we will explore the profound effects of gut health on various aspects of the body.
Disruptions in gut health can lead to hormonal imbalances, affecting various bodily functions, including reproductive health, thyroid function & stress regulation. The biggest bulk of our poo consists of breakdown products from our own bodies, and if the digestive tract does not function optimally, this can lead to an overload of toxins as well as unwanted recycling of hormones leading to estrogen dominance.
GUT HEALTH AFFECTS YOUR MOOD
The gut produces neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and GABA, which influence mood, emotions & cognitive function. Research suggests that your diet is largely responsible for your mood. Depending on what you eat, your diet can uplift you, or it can depress you. The connection is so strong that there’s an entire branch of psychology dedicated to it called nutritional psychiatry.
The reason diet so significantly impacts your mood is because your diet feeds the bacteria in your digestive tract. Healthy, nutritious foods feed the good bacteria that help your body function optimally, while processed, low-quality foods feed the bad bacteria that disrupt your body.
NUTRIENT ABSORPTION AND ENERGY
The gut microbiome is responsible for breaking down and absorbing nutrients from the food we consume. When gut health is compromised, it can lead to malabsorption issues, resulting in nutrient deficiencies.
The best way to get glowy skin is from the inside out. An unhealthy gut can contribute to inflammation and oxidative stress, triggering or exacerbating skin conditions like acne & eczema. Good bacteria in the gut have been linked to reduced acne, improved eczema, the disappearance of rosacea, and other improvements in the skin.
Approximately 70% of the body's immune system resides in the gut-associated lymphoid tissue. Your digestive tract and your immune system interact closely to keep your body in tip-top shape. The two systems regulate and support each other. The majority of your immune cells call your digestive tract home. A healthy gut microbiome helps maintain a balanced immune response, defending against pathogens while preventing overreactions that can lead to allergies, autoimmune disorders & chronic inflammation. It’s thought that dysbiosis - an imbalance of gut bacteria - can be partly to blame for a person’s risk of developing infectious diseases, chronic diseases, and even some cancers due to the gut’s effect on the immune system.
GUT HEALTH AFFECTS YOUR SLEEP
The gut microbiome produces substances that influence sleep patterns and circadian rhythm regulation. Poor gut health may contribute to sleep disturbances and insomnia. You likely know what life is like when you’re sleep-deprived. You can get cranky, have mood swings, get food cravings, and rely on caffeine to get you through. What you might not know is that your gut health can seriously impact your quality of sleep and your sleep cycle.
It’s kind of a vicious cycle. Poor gut health can disrupt your sleep, and poor sleep can disrupt your gut health. It can go on and on if one or the other isn’t fixed. So if you eat a good diet, you can help your digestive tract and thus get better sleep. As they say - rest and digest!
Maintaining a healthy gut is vital for overall well-being, as its impact extends beyond digestion. The intricate connections between the gut and various bodily systems demonstrate the far-reaching influence of gut health on the body. By adopting lifestyle habits that promote a diverse and balanced gut microbiome, such as consuming a nutritious diet, managing stress, and taking probiotics, we can nurture our gut health and support optimal functioning throughout the body. Prioritizing gut health is an investment in our overall health and well-being.